I wasn’t supposed to run a half-marathon this weekend.
I was actually supposed to trek to Dewey Beach and run the Bottle and Cork 10-Miler in the 90+ degree heat Saturday, but my plans for the weekend fell through.
So I found myself running the 9/11 Memorial Half in Georgetown, D.C., organized by Bishops Events, on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Bishops puts on races in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. that benefit various charities; the 9/11 Memorial Half (which also had a 5K option) benefitted the Wounded Warrior Project.
This weekend’s race was run on the C&O Canal foot path, and it was a simple out-and-back course. The race was small, only 116 runners in the half, and the foot path was still open to other runners, walkers and bicyclists. It could have seemed a little crowded, but didn’t. Actually, it was nice having other runners in the mix because they were all happy to cheer us on.
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I started out the race strong, holding a seven-and-a-half minute mile pace for about the first eight miles. I appeared to be on track to run the race in an hour and 40 minutes or less, by far a personal record.
But then, I hit a wall and was never really able to recover. The heat started to get to me, though it was far cooler outside than it had been the previous few days. I think I didn’t hydrate properly before the race, and while I made sure to drink water at every aid station, it probably wasn’t enough.
I kept having to stop and walk during the last three miles of the race, though I didn’t let myself walk for very long during each break. Another runner and I kept passing each other, and we would take turns encouraging each other as well. That’s what I love about road races. Yes, they are a competition, but most runners are just out there because they love the sport and they want to see other runners enjoy themselves, too.
Despite my struggles, I was the second woman to finish the half, in a time of just over an hour and 45 minutes. That’s actually three minutes slower than my personal best in the half, but still, second place! That was very unexpected.
Also, there was something special about running a race in the nation’s capital, 15 years to the day that our country changed forever.
It was a good reminder that, just like runners do in a tough race, the U.S. has kept moving forward and remained strong.